#Power of Businesses l 2019-01-07
Today, we’ll introduce you to another firm that attracted special attention at the Korea Tech Show 2018, a showcase of industrial R&D and technology. Let’s meet with Baek Tae-jong(백태종), senior researcher at the New Technology Engineering Group of Hana Micron.
Hana Micron provides semiconductor packaging solutions and test manufacturing services. While the company also has a division dedicated to the Internet of Things or IoT, its primary business is chip packaging. It has its own promising technology called HANAflex, a flexible packaging solution for memory chips. This technology can be applied to a wide range of areas, including medical devices and fingerprint recognition-based cards.
Founded in 2001, Hana Micron is a semiconductor packaging company. Semiconductor packaging refers to a process that encapsulates a chip with protective material like plastic to protect it from outside shock and moisture and connects the device to a circuit board. Packaging plays an important role in enhancing the performance of a semiconductor. It is the back-end manufacturing process for finished semiconductor devices.
In 2002, the company obtained ISO 9001 certification, an international quality management standard. Later that year it established an integrated management system, and in 2003, it built an integrated production system for both assembly and test requirements. The firm has provided its products to Korea’s two biggest memory chipmakers, Samsung Electronics and SK hynix. In 2010, it constructed a semiconductor plant in Brazil, the first such factory in the Latin American country.
The company continued to grow by developing a new flexible packaging technology for semiconductors.
Silicon is hard and rigid, like a rock. But the flexibility of silicon can be enhanced without making it more brittle by reducing its thickness. This has been proven mathematically.
When a chip is enclosed by protective material known as an encapsulant, like being put in a capsule, the chip is placed somewhere inside the encapsulant. When the device is bent, the chip is exposed to different levels of strain, depending on its location. We place the chip in the so-called stress-free zone, where it is least likely to be affected by stress. And we also use cushion-like materials to better protect the chip so the chip can be flexible but is not easily broken.
Experts say that a main theme of future IT development is softness and flexibility. Today, most IT devices are angular, flat and square due to solid silicon, the base material for semiconductors. In the future, however, bendable or foldable devices will compete for space in the market and may one day overtake their immovable counterparts.
Semiconductors may be flexible too, as a foldable display will naturally require that its inner components bend easily as well. Such technology includes wearable computers as well as foldable and rollable televisions. Flexible semiconductors comprise the core of this innovative technology. In 2012, Hana Micron was able to develop the world’s first packaging technology that makes semiconductors flexible.
We successfully commercialized flexible packaging technology for silicon-based chips for the first time in the world. The rigid silicon wafers are ground down to less than 100 or 50 micrometers thick. This technology, called HANAflex, allows the ultra-thin silicon wafers to bend without breaking, and thus ensures stable memory operations and interconnections even under extreme stress.
The flexible packaging technology can be used in various wearable devices, flexible displays and smart cards. A chip embedded into a credit card, for example, might be broken in three to six months. But chips using HANAflex technology have much longer life spans.
Hana Micron developed this technology in cooperation with the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials. The technology makes silicon chips extremely thin and attaches them to a flexible printed circuit board using a roller. Chips produced in this way are highly flexible.
The back-end technology for flexible semiconductors can be used in all silicon wafer-based applications, including radio frequency identification or RFID tags, flexible displays and wearable computers. However, it was not easy to commercialize this advanced technology.
Packaging structures vary depending on products, so we’ve made efforts to develop the best possible packaging for each model. After all, reliability is the most important element of semiconductors. Memory chips are used in many different areas. If they are used in automobiles, for example, they should perform the functions required by automobiles effectively and reliably. We’ve focused on this consideration when developing our technology.
The semiconductor packaging process may differ according to the traits of each product. Whatever the process may be, semiconductors should provide stable operation no matter how severely they bend. Hana Micron can provide this reliability, and it successfully commercialized their invention in 2014.
In the same year, the company released an SD card with exceptional flexibility. In 2015, Hana Micron began mass production of modules for flexible medical devices, again, for the first time in the world. Last year, the company developed fingerprint recognition modules that can be implanted in smart cards.
For Hana Micron, these achievements are just the beginning. The company continues to develop new technology to make its flexible chip packaging more accessible around the world.
I imagine various mobile and wearable devices, including watches, bands and clothes, will need our flexible semiconductor packaging technology. We have to read the industry trends precisely and decide on which areas we will use our technology and how to apply it.
Using the company’s 3D semiconductor packaging technology, chips can withstand the strain of bending and straightening more than 10-thousand times without compromising performance.
As a leading IT company, Hana Micron’s innovative technology is turning people’s dreams into reality.